Bridge & Tunnel is a Hamburg based fashion label that upcycles old jeans and offers jobs to women who have a hard time finding work.
There’s many reasons people have a hard time finding jobs; either they don’t fully master the language or they don’t have (the right) degrees. It gets harder and harder to find work and get work experience. Bridge&Tunnel in Hamburg makes sure these people can work. But not only does this fashion label provide jobs, they do everything sustainably as well.
Founder and CEO Constanze wanted to start an initiative that was both social and sustainable. She decided to make products out of recycled jeans, made by women who can’t find jobs due to differing reasons. Every year, an incredible amount of resources is used to produce denim jeans. They’re made out of cotton, which is incredibly harmful during the production process, it takes a massive amount of water to produce one pair of jeans and there’s a lot of pesticides involved in the process. Besides that, large companies often produce too many jeans: even though it takes a lot of energy and resources, a large number of jeans are not even sold or even just thrown out: 15% ends up in the garbage. Bridge&Tunnel gets a lot of jeans that are only worn a handful of times. At this fashion label, these jeans get a second life so that the resources don’t go to waste and beautiful items are created out of it. More and more production companies know where to find them so they can give them their surplus of produced jeans that would otherwise end up in the trash.
Bridge&Tunnel employs women who have difficulties finding a job. But the company offers so much more than just a job. The working place is a second home to its employees where they love to spend time and enjoy themselves.“We’ve become somewhat of a family. When I’m sick I miss it here. Yeah I truly love it.’ Mizgin, employee.The personal aspect can be found in the products themselves as well. In the washing, there’s room for the autograph of the employee who stitched the last seam. This way the company wants to emphasize the fact that the products weren’t made by machines, but that it’s people who put in a lot of effort.
It keeps getting better
The production manager teaches the employees how to make beautiful products out the fabric. However, they’re never done learning; once in a while, the company hosts short training sessions to improve the seamstresses’ skills.The seamstresses came to the company in several ways. One way was when the best seamstresses were picked from an Islamic sewing club. They then got a course within the company to be able to produce the products at a high level. The founder finds this one of the challenges of running a social enterprise.
‘You want to offer people all the chances you can, but it only works when the products that are produces are of such quality that you can sell them for a decent prize. Luckily, we’ve been very fortunate with our talented employees.’